It’s the second-last day of the Spooky September Challenge, and today we’re talking about favourite spooky movies!  Here are my picks on a scale that ranges from “spooky” to “scary” and makes pit-stops in “made me jump” and “where’s my movie buddy? I need a hug”.

Spooky September Challenge

Note: I do not include movies such as Saw, The Circle and The Grudge because they don’t entertain me in a “good scary” way. I guess you could say I have an aversion to most modern horror. I just find that there is more of a concentration on trying to one-up the last stunt pulled in a movie, rather than telling a good story. A lot of that relies on body horror and an insane amount of jump cuts, both of which are NOT my cup of tea.

So here’s my favourite choices for “fun” scary movies, in order of increasing suspense!

Coraline & her Dad
Click the pictures to animate!

Wybie

Coraline
A young girl crawls through a door in the wall and finds herself in a world that’s a lot more thrilling than the one she left behind. Line that always reminds me of my Dad? “Go out and … count all the doors and windows and write that down. List everything blue! Just let me work…”

 

Frank

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

Donnie Darko
28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds…that is when the world will end.
When a jet engine from another dimension plummets from the sky into Donnie’s room, he finds himself on a path to saving the world from its inevitable end. The movie is set in 1987 and has the best opening line ever…. “I’m voting for Dukakis.”

 

Can you fly, you sucker!?

Tremors
An isolated desert town. A handful of misfit citizens. When creatures from under the ground begin killing and terrorizing the locals, it’s up to two handymen, a gun nut, and a plucky college co-ed to save the day. In the words of Burt Gummer, “Broke into the wrong goddamn rec room, didn’t ya you bastard!
Bonus: At the start of the movie, you get to wake up with Kevin Bacon. But not this way.

 

Kyle Reese

Terminator
Let’s just put it out there. Women with your name start getting killed. You feel like you’re being followed. A hunky guy who looks like he needs a good meal (and a shower) saves you from an overly-muscled killing machine and says “Come with me if you want to live!
You’d go.  Oh yes. You’d go.
And you’d flinch at that point in the story when Sarah Connor pushes the button.  You know the one. That’s why Terminator is on this list.

 

Dark City

Dark City
Imagine that the next time you woke up, you were another person. Hell, imagine if everything you knew changed every night. Imagine that you only think you know what daytime is. Maybe that trip to the beach you remember…never happened. And maybe someone really is controlling everything you do.

 

Beep, beep, Ritchie!

IT
Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns. With one mini-series headed by the incomparable Tim Curry, Stephen King instilled coulrophobia in a good portion of Generation X. I read the book when I was in high school. It scared the hell out of me. The mini-series suffered from…well…being a mini-series. The one outstanding thing it had going for it? Tim Curry. He’s utterly terrifying even when he’s hamming it up. “BEEP BEEP Richie! They ALL float down here. When you’re down here with us, you’ll float too!

 

They're Heeeeere...

Poltergeist
I used to avoid this movie. Why? Because at a certain age, boys can be real dickheads. To clarify, my male cousins used to get to a certain point in the movie and repeat it over and over and over again. It’s the only scene with any kind of mild body horror, and it was enough to make me leave the room. I think I got to my mid-20’s before I actually ever got to see the end of the movie.
And when I did?  Wow, if they were stopping on the body horror, they were really missing out. Just remember, if the house has a great view at a criminally good price…you might want to consider checking the history of your property before you buy…

 

Jack Torrance

The Shining
I mentioned a couple of days ago that I consider the book and the movie different. Here’s why: Jack Torrance isn’t crazy in the book. I mean, he’s a family man with problems, but genuinely good intentions that get chipped away over time by a malevolent entity. Take a look at good old Jack Nicholson up there. Does he look even remotely well adjusted? No. He comes into the movie with an attitude that tells us he’s one step from falling over the edge. King used a phrase to describe another character in The Stand, but it fits aptly here…there’s something about Nicholson’s version of Torrance that’s like chewing on tin foil.

Jack Torrance...again
I’m not saying Kubrik’s vision of The Shining is bad. It isn’t. It’s just…different. And scary as all hell.
Oh…and check this out…Adam Savage of the Mythbusters made an accurate replica of the Hedge Maze. Just…wow.

 

What's in the box?!

Seven
Not a movie for the overly squeamish. There’s a lot of death in this movie. I got through it because the story is flat-out awesome. Two a seasoned detective and his new partner go on the hunt for a killer when victims are found personifying the Seven Deadly Sins. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are an awesome duo as the two cops. Kevin Spacey is chilling as the mastermind behind it all. It also has one of the most kick-ass remixes of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” that I’ve ever heard.

 

The Birds

Rear Window

Psycho

Pretty much anything by Alfred Hitchcock.
There’s a reason this category is #1 on my list…Only Alfred Hitchcock could make taking a shower a scary experience. I know people who won’t watch black-and-white movies. I think they’re missing out on a whole range of quality film. Notorious, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds…if you want thrills and chills, these are the movies for you. The cinematography is wonderful — whether he uses black and white or colour, he uses it to the best advantage. Also, he figured out that things that happen off camera are often more scary or suspenseful than anything in plain sight.

 

What kind of spooky movies turn your crank?